A hiker in the Samaria Gorge was critically injured in a rockslide caused by a 4.9R earthquake that hit western Crete on Sunday.
The injured man, reportedly a 45-year-old Spanish tourist, is confirmed by state news agency AMNA to have suffered serious leg injuries.
A site doctor offered first aid before the Fire Brigade and emergency staff became involved in the rescue operation and evacuated the rockslide victim by helicopter.
According to local news website ekriti.gr, the hiker was amputated in the rockslide and is currently fighting for his life at the Agios Georgios General Hospital of Chania.
The same source adds that, as soon as the man was transferred to the hospital, he went into surgery, his condition being critical.
4.9R earthquake hits western Crete
According to the National Observatory of Athens, the earthquake occurred at 10:49 local time and measured 4.9 on the Richter scale. Its epicenter was 7 kilometers east of Sougia in the southern part of the Chania prefecture in western Crete. An earthquake of 3.4R was recorded in the same area earlier on Sunday morning.
Following the injury of the Spanish hiker in Samaria Gorge, Deputy Regional Governor of Chania Nikos Kalogeris ordered the shutdown of all gorges in the region.
Samaria Gorge had already shut down immediately after the injury alert at 11:00 am. Over six hundred hikers were safely evacuated from the gorge by authorities.
Greek emergency alert number 112 also sent out a warning to avoid gorges and rocky areas for fear of rockslides.
⚠️ Ενεργοποίηση 1️⃣1️⃣2️⃣
🆘 Λόγω σεισμικής δόνησης στην περιοχής σας, αποφύγετε επικίνδυνες περιοχές (φαράγγια, βράχους)
‼️ Ακολουθείτε τις οδηγίες των Αρχών
Samaria Gorge reopened in May following maintenance work
Samaria Gorge is known for being the second-largest gorge in Europe. It was formed by a small river which runs between the White Mountains and Mount Volakias.
The 15-kilometer (10-mile) long walk takes hikers through a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and some of the most unique scenery to be found in the entirety of Greece. The full hike takes people from five to seven hours to complete, but a shorter hike route is also available.
In 2022, the gorge welcomed 168,593 hikers, which was the highest number of visitors since 2007.
The 2023 visiting period started on May 1st after two weeks of maintenance and restoration work on its main path.
Work on it included bridge restoration, maintenance of the path and handrails, and construction of rockfall prevention structures.
Its management for visitors was transferred to the Natural Environment & Climate Change Agency (NECCA) in the summer of 2022. At the time, an electronic ticketing system was also put into operation.